It never was a tank job and the fact that the New York Jets are sitting at .500 entering Week 5 of the NFL season is further proof that this organization never tried to throw away the season.
All offseason long, the talk around the Jets was how their roster was this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. The Jets weren’t favored to win any games this year and some pundits thought they’d go winless. Instead, they’ve won two-straight games and were more competitive in their losses this year than most forecasted.
Perhaps we can finally tank the idea that the Jets were tanking this season.
Now it isn’t time to plan a ticker-tape parade down Broadway quite yet and truthfully, the hard fact is that this team isn’t making the playoffs — the talent simply isn’t there. But by the same token, they didn’t tank and that is clearly seen in how hard this group is playing.
There was no plan to tank. They didn’t design or intend to tank. The Jets wouldn’t have been happy with a tank season.
The whole idea spun around the notion that the Jets were willing to waive the white flag on this season in an effort to get a top pick. A quarterback would be there for the taking, conventional wisdom held, and the Jets could finally be headed in the right direction.
My season, the pro-tank crowd said, my season for a quarterback.
Instead, none of the top quarterbacks picked to go in the top three of next year’s NFL Draft have exactly lit things up. And the Jets for their part have gone off to win a couple of games. So even if the Jets had tanked, they likely wouldn’t be grabbing the franchise quarterback they longed for — at least not this year.
But the plan never was to tank the year. They knew this year would have some hard knocks. There would be losses and growing pains. Management and the coaching staff also knew it’d be worth it.
This always was going to be a rebuild. After the travesty of last year, the team had to get younger and had to gain flexibility under the salary cap. So they cut or waived veterans such as cornerback Darrelle Revis, center Nick Mangold, right tackle Breno Giacomini, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receivers Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Those are some big names.
Those big names also had some large salary numbers and were close to getting their Medicare cards rather than the prime of their careers.
So general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles were right in this decision. Barely any of those aforementioned players are making a significant impact this year for other teams — in fact, half of the ones listed aren’t even in the league anymore.
What the Jets undertook was a rebuild, and those things rarely happen overnight in the NFL. They had to cut some players who weren’t contributing or weren’t a part of the long-term plans. They had to go young and develop depth.
In order to do so, the stars became no more on this team. The younger players on the roster had to be given a chance to get reps.
From the outside, it looked like purposeful tanking but it was simply a calculated move. A shrewd one at that.
The Jets now go into the upcoming free agency period with a sizable amount of space under the salary cap, likely in the top five of available room among all NFL teams. That wouldn’t be the case if they carried so much dead weight around into the upcoming offseason.
That’s not to say that the Jets won’t have a rough year. In fact, they might lose all their remaining dozen games. It doesn’t change the fact, however, that this was a plan that goes beyond 2017 and clearly points towards the future. It looked like they were throwing away the season. Instead, they were willing to be bold, even if it meant taking some lumps along the way.
Not a tank job but an actual plan. That hasn’t been said around the land of the Jets for quite some time.